How to best use your medical care. How to get the most for your health care dollars.
Make your office visits according to the appropriate level of need for the problem you need to have addressed. Do make appointments regularly if you are on chronic medications.
- If you are on blood pressure medications: office visits should be once every 3-4 months if your blood pressure is well controlled. If your blood pressure is not well controlled, (not at the goal blood pressure of BP systolic <135 and BP diastolic < 85) then office visits should be every 2-4 weeks until at those goal blood pressure levels.
- If you are on cholesterol medications: office visits should be once every 3-4 months if your cholesterol levels are at goal levels. If your LDL Cholesterol, Total Cholesterol, Triglycerides or HDL Cholesterol are not at goal levels, then office visits should be every 4-6 weeks with fasting blood tests obtained until at goal.
- If you are Diabetic on insulin: office visits should be once a month.
- If you are Diabetic on oral medications: office visits should be once every 1-2 months if your glucose (blood sugar level) is well controlled.
- If you are on medication for Thyroid conditions: office visits should be once every 4-6 months
- If you are on medications for Arthritic conditions: office visits should be once every 3-4 months if condition is stable.
- If you are on pulmonary medications for Asthma or Emphysema: office visits should be once every 3-4 months if condition is stable.
- In summary, generally if you are on any medications taken on an everyday, chronic basis then you should be seen to monitor the medication’s effectiveness as well as to assess there are no adverse effects of the medication(s). These office visits should generally occur every 3-4 months.
Changes in any stable medical condition warrant an earlier office visit, generally, within the next 1 week of those changes if not within hours or days. These are indications to contact the office for information and determination of when you need to be seen.
Don’t make appointments for 2 weeks later after your phone call to the office if you are having trouble breathing. This needs to be seen right away, and may require you to go to the emergency room. Please convey this information to the office staff answering the telephone.
Don’t make appointments for 1 or 2 weeks later after your phone call to the office if you are having chest pain. This needs to be seen right away, and may require you to go to the emergency room. Please convey this information to the office staff answering the telephone.
Schedule routine follow-up examinations in advance and note them on your personal calendar. If you are on your last refill of a chronic medication it is a good idea to schedule your follow-up appointment at the time you go to order or pick up your last refill of that medication.
Have Physical Examinations on a schedule appropriate for your age and overall general medical health. See the Health Maintenance Guidelines appropriate for your age.
Infants: Physical Exams at 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 4, months, 6 months, 9 months, 10 months and 1 year old.
Toddlers: Physical Exams at 15 months, 18 months, 2 years, 3 years and 4 years old
Children: Physical Exams at 6 years, 9 years, 11-14 years, 14-18 years old
18-21 years old: 1 Physical Exam necessary
22-29: Physical Exams every 3-4 years; Women to have Annual Gynecologic Exam
30-39: Physical Exams every 3-4 years; Women to have Annual Gynecologic Exam
40-45: Physical Exams every 2-3 years; Women to have Annual Gynecologic Exam
46-49: Physical Exams every 2 years; Women to have Annual Gynecologic Exam
50-99: Physical Exams Annually; Women to have Annual Gynecologic Exams to the age of 60 then if all normal Pap smears, no Family History of Gynecologic Cancer, no postmenopausal bleeding pelvic exams can be done every 3-4 years.
100+: Physical Exams, you decide, you tell the doctor. Annual exams are advisable and reasonable.
Be on time for your appointments. If you haven’t been to the office in some time it may be worth arriving 15-20 minutes before your appointment in order to update any necessary paperwork. Registrations forms for the office, signatures and forms for medicare, review of changes in office policy, updating insurance information and completing periodic health history forms.
Be prepared for your office visit:
Organize your questions and list of problems on a piece of paper or carefully in your head prior to being seen by the physician. Keep a list of the names of your medications with the dosages and frequency of the dosing listed as well. Note any prescriptions that need written refills.
With Medications: One of the most serious problems in medicine is that patients fail to take their medications as prescribed. Please be sure to check with the physician regarding the correct manner in which to take your medications. You must make every physician who sees you aware of all the medications that you are taking.
With Medical Recommendations: It is important to follow medical recommendations which may direct proper recovery from an illness. By not following recommendations recovery could be delayed or complications in your recovery, illness and care could occur.
With Medical Instructions: It is important to follow medical instructions which may direct proper recovery from an illness. By not following instructions at all or not following them correctly may result in recovery could be delayed or complications in your recovery, illness and care could occur.
With Medical Follow-up: Please arrange and keep follow-up office visits. These follow-up visits are often indicated and necessary to assess that your medical condition is progressing and improving as expected.
Please do not self refer yourself to a specialist (especially if you are a patient with an insurance plan that requires that you see your Primary Care Physician (PCP) first). It is in your best interest to be evaluated appropriately by your Family Physician prior to any referral to a Specialist Physician. As Family Physician’s we have no desire to deny any referrals to a Specialist as is indicated. Often the Family Physician can assist in beginning the evaluation or initiating treatment more quickly and can make the referral to the most appropriate of the medical or surgical specialists that is indicated by the medical condition that is being evaluated.
If you feel you are in need of seeking a Specialist’s care it would quite an appropriate process to the patient having made a list of physicians you prefer in that specific specialty. This can be done by consulting your Insurance book listing Participating Providers in your medical plan or by obtaining recommendations by family and friends or your Family Physician.
Delays in the office
One of the most frustrating problems for patients, doctors and medical office staff alike comes from the delays that are often encountered sitting and waiting, either in the waiting room of the office or in an exam room waiting to be seen. Please be aware that everyone really tries to keep on schedule at all times. However, people get sick, emergencies happen, often unanticipated findings and information is gained at an office visit and all patients want their questions answered. The physician and the medical staff do their best to answer the questions and resolve the problems and provide understandable instructions in the most efficient manner. In some cases this takes more time than previously arranged. Please be patient and remember that as a patient you too would want that same type of time and effort.